Trans Power

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

I am a Cisgender white woman... I just need to put that out there before I try and "review" this book.  

Really, what I want to say about this book is that I learned a lot while reading it. I learned that I need to listen to people who are living a life that I'm not and be willing to hear what they are saying. I learned that being Trans isn't just about gender or one's body. Trans can be about HIV, race, racism, gender, bigotry, intimacy, sexuality, surgery, suicide, religions and truth. 

One of the topics that came up repeatedly in the book is about defining what "Trans" is... in terms of whether it's a noun or a verb... is it a destination? Is it a state? Is it fluid or static? Does the process begin or end, or is it even a process to begin with? 

"...Trans isn't something that we exit from, it can be something that we arrive into." - Travis Power

The people interviewed in his book are remarkable and every one of them has something unique and important to share. I think that Juno Roche has done a great job of choosing people who are inspiring and candid. There are performers, teachers, authors and more.

I can see that this book would be a big help to anyone who is struggling with their gender identity or the way in which they fit into the world.
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Trans Power is a book about trans identities, using interviews and personal memoir to explore different people's experiences and to consider sex, bodies, love, and more. Juno Roche talks to various influential figures to find out more about their gender, their identities, and how this intersects with other areas in their lives, and combines this with surrounding discussion on a personal and societal level. It is a powerful and raw book that highlights different voices and gives readers insight into a variety of experiences and identities.
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Another important book by Juno Roche, this book follows on from Queer sex, using a similar formula of interviews with key trans and non-binary people, in-between the authors personal reflections. Queer sex was the author's quest for love, this book is about their journey to love themselves including their body, as a trans woman who has had surgery. An open and honest exploration of how to have sexual pleasure, following current wisdom about finding out what you like before you can tell someone else. I particularly liked where Juno says: 

"We need to ask better questions around our surgery, not just the one of 'looking real'." 

followed by a list of questions that made me think about what questions might anyone have about their body and what it can and can't do. 

This book makes the case in several points that Trans and non binary people are pushing the boundaries of gender but that they are not alone:

"History is full of cis folk trying to please and blend into the gender binary to no avail. It's not like we are the sole owners of dysphoria; that shit exists all around,..."

Juno goes on to say how the system (of gender) is broken and it is certainly hard to argue against that.

I enjoyed this book but found it went further than Queer sex, if that was an introduction then this is the continuation, it was like being in the room whilst people discussed queer theory, interesting, sometimes confusing and challenging, but ultimately engaging. At times I would have liked more awareness and discussion of dysphoria that exists around different body sizes and ethnicities. I really enjoy the way Juno writes and concepts and found the book thought provoking and an important addition to Trans narratives. 

With thanks to Netgalley for a free ARC for an honest review.
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Generally, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction because it can be difficult to immerse myself. Especially when it’s something that could potentially be psychologically stressful. But, the title of this book snagged my attention from the moment I saw it and I immediately requested it on NetGalley.

Trans Power? Hell yeah. We’re powerful and amazing as fuck, and I was thrilled to be able to read a book that would work to uplift us in multiple aspects of life.

There’s really no perfect way to review this because it’s essentially a collection of interviews with trans, transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer people reflecting on their lives and experiences, so I’m just going to talk a bit about aspects I liked and then a few comments on what I’d have liked to see done differently.

One aspect that I liked was that the book discusses intersectionality as Roche interviews a few people of color for the book. Which worked well with the interview format, because it allowed the interviewees to to speak for themselves and their experiences, without having a white person talk over and explain. And it goes into detail about how, while life is difficult for all trans people, it’s often even more so for people who aren’t white, because racism and other aggressions (micro or otherwise) are often layered into the hatred they receive. It was great to see that the book actively tried to shed light on these differences and how we, as white people, need to actively support and backup people of color. Similarly, Roche interviews a couple disabled people, and it was also really great to be able to read their words and how their own lives have been affected. It was eye opening to read the concerns that the interviewees had about not being believed and how their disabilities often make them seem lesser and more easily dismissed. And again, it just reiterates how able bodied people need to support disabled people.

Also, I liked that they discussed and respected that there are gray areas to gender, that it’s not just binary. Cisgender woman/man and transgender woman/man are not the only two sides to gender, and to spread this information is harmful to all who don’t fit into these strict labels. And as far as labels go, I liked that the book acknowledges that certain labels work for some people but not other. Because while one term can be positive and fit perfectly for another, it could also have negative and/or dysphoric connotations for others.

Additionally, within the book, Roche compares the idea of transition as a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. I found this concept to be really interesting. Passing, having surgery, doing all the things necessary to make yourself less obvious and One of Them is, in a way, molding yourself to make your gender more palatable to cisgender people, if you look at in the way the of assimilation. And while I don’t necessarily agree completely with what they said–because these systems are often lifesaving for trans and nonbinary people and are often essential for combating dysphoria–it’s an interesting concept to think about and ponder for one’s own life.

Finally, I liked the fact that Roche acknowledges that trans men very often get the short end of the stick and need more support. Most people are willing to accept and welcome trans women (with the exception of bigots, of course) into life and society, but they very rarely do so for trans men. For one thing, because they are then lumped into the category of “all men” and there’s frequently little to no recognition of the fact that trans men and cis men are not socialized in the same way and shouldn’t always be grouped together. There are different circumstances that color their experiences and actions. And for another, as Roche points out, cis men tend to find trans women less threatening to their masculinity than trans men.

This textual conversation, though, is also where I had the biggest issue. Because, for the most part, the people interviewed for the book were AMAB. There were very few people who were AFAB, and there were no intersex people (none that were specified at least). It would’ve been nice to see more diversity to that end amongst the interviewees.

But overall, I found this book to be very concise and it gives a lot of food for thought, both in general and towards one’s personal life.
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I initially picked this book up because I've had a few people in my life who are exploring their gender identities.  Specifically those who feel they may be trans.  I thought this book may help me understand more about sexual identity, and to be a better support system for those friends.  While an active ally in the LGBTQ community, I did learn quite a lot from this book.  I enjoyed the format of the book, which is an interview-type style, which lead me to feel more in tune with the topics.  This book left me with a different perspective than I had going in, and I hope this will help me be a strong supporter of my friends as they continue with their journey's.
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Trans Power is a powerful collection of conversations between Juno Roche and a dozen trans activists, performers and writers around bodies, sexuality, gender and intersections with race, religion and disability.

Trans Power has a raw, unedited quality that makes you feel as if you're in the room for these discussions, and follows on from Queer Sex in Roche's search for answers around the author's own sense of sexual embodiment. Because of this framing, many of the conversations focus on genitals, sex, and the desirability of trans people in a very emotional and honest way, alongside critiques of the gender binary, patriarchy and structural barriers for trans people. I enjoyed this very queer structure and I was left with lots to think about, especially from E-J Scott and Travis Alabanza.

At a time when trans people in the UK are so under attack politically, it felt really important that Trans Power provides the space for such nuanced conversations and the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of trans people in their own words. Recommended for everyone, get your pre-orders in now!
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*I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The focus of Trans Power is a series of interviews around sex and transness, on the practicalities of pleasure, dysphoria, trans bodies, and the world of potential issues and ideas that can spring up within those concepts. She talks to veteran activists, drag stars, museum curators, and close friends, and each of the interviews Roche conducts reveals different conceptualizations and personal relationships to transness, sex, binary gender categories, genitals, dysphoria, pleasure. She doesn’t shy away from difficult topics: suicide, death, disability, illness, rape, assault, transphobia--nothing is pushed away or brushed aside as too much to deal with.

Juno Roche is a vivid and engaging writer, and the book is a boundary-pushing and sometimes radical read. Her language ranges from deeply academic to casually pornographic and back again, often within the space of a paragraph. The well-circulated meme about how trans folks talk about gender applies well here--the language we use is curated and careful and researched and personal because we have taken the time to engage with our thoughts and feelings and bodies and communities.  

Overall, this was a beautifully written, thought-provoking, immensely sensual, and wonderfully timely book.

I really wished I liked it more than I did.

As brilliant as the writing of the book was, it was difficult to fully connect. The narrative seemed, at times, unsure of what it wanted to be: a collection of interviews, a diary, a memoir, a place to process a personal perspective on an ideology of transness. Any of those things would be totally valid (and I’d read any of them, and even a combination!) but the lack of a clear structure of the text felt like there wasn’t a clear arc. The interviews, too, were difficult at times: it frequently seemed that Roche was more interested in speaking than listening. I would have loved to have more of her subject’s perspectives on the issues she raised around gender and transness--I already knew where Roche stood, it was her book! If she had framed the chapters as conversations rather than interviews maybe the discrepancy wouldn’t have been so jarring, but I did feel it.

Another area that stood out for me, repeatedly, was the juxtaposition of the joyousness with which Roche connected to the power of trans but time and again came back to a rejection of the nonbinary identity. Full disclosure: I am queer and nonbinary, so my knee-jerk struggle with this was definitely personal. Roche framed her argument from the perspective that to be nonbinary is to a) validate the gender binary in the first place and b) to then be “non”, “less than” one of those validated binary categories. Pretty much every nonbinary person I know would take issue with both of those arguments and the sum of them. As nonbinary does fall within the trans umbrella, I wish she would have included a nonbinary interview subject in her book--there are amazing enby activists, performers, and academics out there doing incredible work, and the way we relate to and name our bodies and our sexual experiences are just as nuanced and complex as our other trans siblings. If trans is beautiful (which it is!) as she ends the book declaratively, nonbinary must be, too. 

Structural and personal challenges with the text aside, the book does do what I believe it set out to: present a series of thought-provoking and engaging conversations around the way we think about trans bodies and sexuality, and how we can conceive of trans as an identity without a qualifier, offering power, beauty, strength, and healing. It’s a personal read, occasionally a difficult one, and always deeply, beautifully honest. You will come away from it a wiser person than you were before.
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What a wonderfully raw and open book. I feel like I've learned alot by reading this book. I am not trans and have only met one other person (that I'm aware of) that identifies as trans. This book she be required reading in high school/college.
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"I need nothing more, simply I am Trans-sapiens"

Roche explores gender and identity and what it all means, doesn't mean, and everything in between from whiteness, mental health, STDS and word choices. The interviews are revealing, raw and emotional. To be Trans, is to simply to be.

"Trans to me is that ocean, that landscape, that sky. Trans is beautiful."
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Such an important book that I feel like everyone should read. A collection of interviews with people from the trans community who share their stories, struggles and are so open about it. It's really very special that they want to share this with us and I can't say enough how brave they are.

Like I said I think everyone should read it but especially people from the lgbt+ community because trans people and especially those of colour are the founders of our community and we need to support them and stand with them always. And to read this and get more insight, get to know their thoughts, feelings is just special.

Thank you to the author and to everyone who was interviewed.
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A powerful and honest collection of interviews that I recommend to any-and-everyone. It is eye-opening and inspiring, and it’s worth noting that, even though the blurb describes this book as ‘focusing on the mechanics of sex’ (which, of course, it does), I really believe it contains so much wisdom that our world desperately needs. 

This book is very adequately titled ‘Trans Power’, and to quote Travis towards the end of their interview with Juno on p.640 (of the kindle edition I received), “A trans body is beautiful, desirable and courageous. It’s a heroic body.”

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(Note: I ticked that I would recommend this book to my students, however it would strictly be my senior students, as it deals with sex quite explicitly)

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“Trans feels new, trans is literally buzzing. We should be jumping for joy at how we might create something decent and poetic in this hugely cynical and corrupt space. Trans is the change-maker, trans is the prefix to future-all. I truly believe that we hold many of the answers that are currently needed.” (p.187, kindle)

“The way I see things now is that not anything major about him is changing. Husk is still Husk. His personality stays the same. What makes him happy makes me happy. There are a million ways to have sex. I sometimes think that it is other cis people who really have the problems.” (p.1116, kindle)
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*Book received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This book was very necessary and I think it's come at a good time. There are extremely powerful stories shared here and I'm honestly honored by the trust these people have given to share such intimate parts of themselves with the world.
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